Aharbal Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kashmir. It is also the most easily accessible one and yet never crowded. Located at a distance of only about 70 kilometers from Srinagar, it is a place that is amazingly beautiful but does not get the attention that it truly deserves.
Most of the people visiting Kashmir prefer going to destinations like Sonamarg, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. But Kashmir is so much more than just these few names. There are plenty of other places that are no lesser in beauty. Aharbal is one of those.
If you were planning to visit Kashmir, I will highly recommend that you must find a day in your itinerary for a visit to Aharbal. How can you plan that is what I will be providing details on in this article.
About Aharbal Waterfall
Aharbal is a small village in Kashmir Valley, located about 70 kilometers from Srinagar and 15 kilometers from Shopian. The place is best-known most for its spectacular waterfall which in recent times has started to get referred to as the Niagara Falls of Kashmir.
The waterfall is named after this village and is formed at a spot where Veshaw River or Nallah Veshaw flows through a narrow gorge of granite boulders. The water falls about 25 meters at 3 different places before it flows down the valley.
The first fall is a smaller one through huge rocks and is hardly noticeable. More than a waterfall, it looks like the water is just flowing through the rocks.
The second one is slightly higher and the water forms a pool-like area immediately after it, as you can see in the image above. The third fall is the highest and the noisiest one.
The entire setting of the village and the waterfall is quite peaceful and suitable for expeditions, trekking, photography fishing, etc. If nothing else, it still is a good spot to just sit down and gaze at the mighty river flowing through the huge rocks and falling down.
The river that the waterfall is on is known by a few different names like Veshu River, Veshaw River, or Veshaw Nallah.
How to Reach Aharbal Waterfall?
Aharbal Waterfall can be reached only by road from Srinagar. The best way to travel is by your private vehicle or a taxi. Public transport is also available on the route in the form of buses and shared cabs.
Let me first provide details on how you can reach Aharbal waterfall by different modes of travel. After that, I will cover other details like where to stay, what else to see, itinerary planning, etc.
In order to reach Aharbal, you will first have to reach Srinagar of course which is fairly easy. For people traveling by their own vehicle, you can just drive to Srinagar city by the regular Jammu – Srinagar highway NH44.
You can also take a different route and travel by the Mughal road through Rajouri – Peer Ki Gali – Shopian.
If you were however not traveling by your own vehicle, then Srinagar is well connected to the rest of the country by Air, Train, and Bus service. No matter which part of the country you live in, you can easily reach the city by either flying or boarding a train.
If you need more details on traveling to Srinagar, please take a look at this post How to Plan a Trip to Srinagar.
How to reach Aharbal Waterfall from Srinagar
After you have arrived in Srinagar, getting to Aharbal is not that difficult. If you were traveling by your own vehicle or a rented cab/motorcycle, you can travel by either of the below-mentioned routes.
- Route 1: Srinagar – Nowgam – Pulwama – Shopian – Aharbal Waterfall
- Route 2: Srinagar – Pampore – Pulwama – Shopian – Aharbal Waterfall
Traveling by the first route, you will stay on an internal single-lane road that passes through a few villages. There will be a lot of traffic on a narrow road which can limit the speed.
By the second route, you will stay on NH44 until Pampore. Just before Pampore, you will turn right on the road towards Shopian. Traveling this way, you will be able to save some traffic and reach your destination a little faster.
In terms of the distance, it will be a journey of about 70 kilometers irrespective of which route you take. Travel time will be in the range of 2-3 hours, depending on the traffic.
Of the 70 kilometers of the distance, it is only the last 15 kilometers of the journey which is a steep climb. For the remaining 50 odd kilometers, the road mostly remains flat until Shopian.
If you were reaching Aharbal from any other part of Kashmir, like Pahalgam, then the idea is to first reach Shopian. Just ask around and take the road towards Shopian. From there, you will travel another 15 kilometers to Aharbal Falls.
By Private Taxi
The best, easiest and most convenient way would be to rent a private taxi for the trip. Depending on the type of cab you chose, your total charge for the day would come out to be between Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2500 per day.
Your hotel can arrange a taxi to take you to Aharbal waterfall. This is what most tourists do. Or you can just book one taxi for your entire trip to Kashmir which probably will be the best thing to do.
For renting a private cab, you can talk to Faisal in Srinagar at 9596410670. He is a great guy and will be able to get you a cab for the lowest possible price.
Srinagar to Aharbal Shared Taxi
Public transport is available for Aharbal waterfall from Srinagar. The problem however is that it will not be easy to find and you will have to change cabs at 3 places in between.
From your hotel in Srinagar, you will first have to look for a shared cab to either Parimpora or Batmaloo. This itself can be a bit of a problem and you may have to look for a private cab.
From Parimpora or Batmaloo, find a cab going towards Shopian. If you find a bus, board it and do not wait. Once you reach Shopian, you will then have to look for a shared cab for Aharbal Waterfall.
As I mentioned, Aharbal is not yet that famous among tourists. Not many people come in this direction due to which the frequency of public transport between Shopian and Aharbal is very less but it is there.
The good news, however, is that Shopian is a major and well-known town and lots of people travel here. So getting there will not be a challenge.
Also Read: How to Plan your Trip to Alpather Lake?
Srinagar to Aharbal Waterfall by Bus
Like shared cabs, traveling by Bus is not going to be easy either. There is no direct bus from Srinagar to Aharbal and the journey would have to be completed in exactly the same manner that I mentioned above for shared cabs.
Your first task would be to reach Parimpora or Batmaloo in Srinagar and catch a bus for Shopian. This will not be that difficult because Shopian is a major town and there are daily buses from Srinagar to Shopian.
The problem however then is reaching Aharbal from Shopian. There is no bus service available so you will be completely relying on shared cabs. Just reach the Shopian Bus stand and ask around and you will be able to find a Sumo going towards Aharbal.
Srinagar Airport is the nearest airport to Aharbal. It is located about 65 kilometers from Aharbal and the journey can be completed in about 3 hours.
The major airlines operating regular flights to Srinagar are Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet, Air Asia, and Indigo.
Srinagar railway station is the nearest railway line to Aharbal. The problem however is that it is not yet fully operational and connected. Right now, you can reach Udhampur by train.
From Udhampur, you will then have to board a bus or taxi for Ramban. After reaching Ramban, you will then board another train from Ramban to Srinagar.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Doodhpathri
Aharbal in Winter
Does the waterfall freeze over in winter is what I was asked by someone. The answer is that no it does not. Even during peak winter, there is still water flowing in the river and the waterfall will still be alive.
There will of course be some snow on both sides of the river and in Aharbal village but you will still see water flowing through the gorge.
In terms of reaching Aharbal in the winter season, all the information I provided above will still apply. You will have to complete your journey in the exact same manner.
I will still recommend that you inquire about the road conditions ahead before leaving Srinagar. It is very rare but sometimes, due to heavy snowfall, the road may get closed.
The road until Shopian remains open throughout the year. But the last 15 kilometers of the stretch from Shopian to Aharbal may get blocked by snow.
What to See at Aharbal?
The waterfall here is the biggest attraction and this is what people come here to see. The natural beauty of the place around Aharbal is another attraction. The drive from Shopian till Aharbal is quite scenic with great vistas all around.
There really isn’t much else to do for a day’s trip unless you were planning a stay here for a day or two and wanted to go trekking.
As you get closer to Aharbal and see the Veshaw River flowing through the mountains, you will immediately take your camera out and start clicking.
Other Side of the Village
As you get closer to Aharbal, you will cross a small bridge on the Veshaw river. Most of the people turn left from here and head straight to the waterfall.
I will recommend that while returning, you also go to the other side. The road extends for another few kilometers and the views over there are also great. There is also a small park where you can sit and relax for a while.
Kausar Nag Lake
If you were into trekking, you can trek to the famous Kausar Nag Lake. But for that, you will have to bring proper camping gear and guides from Srinagar itself. It is a 2 days trek from Aharbal so you will definitely have to come prepared.
Also Read: Gulmarg Gondola – How to Plan your Ride?
Peer ki Gali Pass / Mughal Road
Another place to see near Aharbal will be the famous Mughal road. It is a stretch of about 85 kilometers running from Shopian to Bafliaz.
The entire stretch is a highly scenic drive crossing the high altitude pass of Peer ki Gali on the way. You can start early from Srinagar and also cover the Mughal road on the same day while visiting Aharbal.
The meadows of Kungawatan too are definitely worth visiting. There is no road to the meadows however and you will have to trek all the way. It actually lies at the halfway point of the two-day trek to the high-altitude Kausar Nag Lake.
Please note though that visiting Kausar Nag Lake and Kungawatan meadows requires you to spend at least 3 – 4 days in Aharbal. The only place you can cover with Aharbal in a single day is only Mughal Road.
Things to do at Aharbal
Apart from spending some time at the waterfall, below is a list of some other activities that you can enjoy in Aharbal.
- Trekking to Kungawatan or Kausar Nag
- Horse riding
- There is plenty of Trout fish in the river so you can go fishing as well if that interests you. Please note though that you will have to obtain a permit for fishing from the Fisheries department stationed at Aharbal.
Where to Stay
Now let us briefly talk about where can you stay in Aharbal and whether you should or not. As you can tell from reading the list above, other than the waterfall, there really are not a lot of places of tourist interest in and around Aharbal.
The only thing to do here is to just sit in peace, enjoy the views, and take a walk in a remote Kashmiri Village. If that interests you and you had some time to spare, then yes, you can stay at Aharbal for the night.
Another reason for an overnight stay could be photography. The picture I posted above was clicked in the late hours of the day. The waterfall looks amazing during the day as well but the harsh sun can have a bad effect on the pictures.
Shots taken at either dusk or dawn will definitely be much better than the ones clicked in the day. If you wanted to try that, you can stay in Aharbal for the night.
Hotels in Aharbal
There are no luxury hotels here and your choice of stay is limited to just a J&K Tourism resort. When I was there last, the villagers were in the process of building some huts and cottages close to the river but I am not sure how long that may take.
For now, JKTDC Aharbal Resort is your only choice of accommodation at Aharbal. You can book a room on the JKTDC online portal or you can just talk to the caretaker and negotiate an on-the-spot deal.
In all honesty, unless you were interested in trekking to Kausar Nag lake or clicking pictures of the waterfall in the late hours, there is really no point in staying at Aharbal for the night.
The place is great but just for a day. Make it a day’s trip and reach back to Srinagar by evening.
Best time to Visit Aharbal Waterfall
The best time to visit Aharbal Waterfall is from April to October. During this period as well, the best time would be in either April or September.
You can go there in the later months of November and December as well but then the scenery will be a little dull. If you wanted to see the waterfall with a bit of snow around then try planning a trip in the month of January or February.
The reason why I said April and September is the best time is that this is when the weather will be most pleasant.
September is the post-monsoon month so there will definitely be a lot of water in the river, making the waterfall look even larger.
Also Read: When is the Best time to Visit Gulmarg?
Aharbal Waterfall Itinerary
Aharbal is really a one-day trip only. You can start early from Srinagar, say by 7 or 8 am, and reach Shopian. From Shopian, you will then travel to Aharbal, spend some time, and journey back to Srinagar.
If you are able to return to Shopian from Aharbal by noon, you will then have two choices. You can either travel on the Mughal road all the way to Peer ki Gali or come back to Srinagar.
My recommendation will be that you include both Aharbal and Peer ki Gali Pass in one day. This will, you will be able to make the most out of your time and explore more.
Another thing you can do is to include Aharbal with a trip to Pahalgam. You can first go to Pahalgam, explore the areas there and cover Aharbal while traveling back to Srinagar.
The first thing you need to remember is that only postpaid connections work in the state of J&K. Prepaid phones do not work here and will be dead the moment you enter the state.
If you have a BSNL, Airtel, or Jio postpaid phone, you will have full connectivity in Aharbal as well. Vodafone wasn’t working the last time I was there but I heard that it would be soon.
I cannot comment about the Idea phones since none of us was carrying one. But as far as I know, Idea doesn’t work in Aharbal.
Weather of Aharbal
Due to its high altitude, the weather of Aharbal mostly remains pleasant throughout the year. Let me give a brief breakdown of how the weather here trends in the year.
Aharbal Waterfall in January, February, March
The region receives snowfall during the months of January and February and the temperature dips below 0 degrees Celsius at night. Snow starts to melt in March, and the weather turns to more of a pleasant cold than a harsh cold.
During these months, the night temperature can be as low as -10 degrees celsius. Because of the high altitude and the narrow roads, sometimes even the road to Aharbal can get blocked.
Also Read: Gulmarg Gondola – How to Plan your Ride?
Aharbal Waterfall in April, May, June
The spring season arrives in April and it is one of the best times to visit Kashmir. All the melting snow irrigates the ground and the area gets covered with a green carpet of green grass.
May is when the weather starts to turn a little warm. You will actually be surprised at how hot it can get here during the summer months. The sun will be way too harsh and will make sightseeing during the day even more difficult.
The same trend of the weather continues in June as well. You should also know that this is the peak tourist season in Kashmir and this is when it gets crowded the most.
Aharbal Waterfall in July, August, September
The monsoon arrives in July and the region receives a lot of rain for the next two months. It is not a good time to visit because of the risk that the monsoon season presents. But on the upside, this is also when the views are at their best.
August and early September once again see lush green all around after Monsoon has passed. This is also when the amount of water in the waterfall increases, making it look even grander.
Aharbal Waterfall in October, November, December
October is the time of Autumn and this is when you see the orange and red colors in the trees. It is also a good time for photography but only at certain spots. Overall, this is actually the dry season and the scenery will not be that great.
Cold starts to settle in again towards the end of October and by November, it can snow here anytime. The higher areas receive snow as early as October. But in the lower areas, it is usually by December when it starts to snow.
Mentioned below are some other tips that can be of help in planning a trip to Aharbal Waterfall.
The road is a single-lane one but is mostly in good condition. There are a few bad sections in between but nothing that may become too much of a problem.
It is mostly a flat road till Shopian and you won’t even feel like traveling through a hilly region. It is only after Shopian that you will gain some serious height in the last 15 kilometers.
There is a very bad section just before the Aharbal village but other than that, it is a smooth drive all the way.
I noticed an ATM in Aharbal the last time I was there. Other than that, there are ATMs in Shopian and almost in every town that you will cross on the way.
Mechanic / Petrol Pump
There is no gas station at Aharbal. The nearest one is in Shopian. You can find a mechanic here for some minor fixes only.
You can get some basic medical assistance in Aharbal and Shopian. For something serious, however, you will have to rush to Srinagar.
Where to Eat
There is no cooking arrangement at the JKTDC resort. If you were staying overnight, you will actually have to come to the village for food. There are several small restaurants in the market area where you can eat.
Aharbal Waterfall Altitude
Aharbal is at an elevation of 2,266 m (7,434 feet).
Below are some frequently asked questions about Aharbal Waterfall.
Why Visit Aharbal Waterfall?
While I was standing at the waterfall, clicking pictures, I realized how crowded the place would have been if it was located somewhere in Uttarakhand or Himachal.
It reminded me a bit of Kempty Falls of Mussorie but is not yet destroyed by all the tourist rush and commercialization of the place.
It is like those scenic spots that you see in the movies. A scenic spot with a beautiful waterfall in the background, silence all around except for the sound of the falling water.
Thousands of people travel through Kashmir each year but only a handful of those come to Aharbal. It is a place that is still known only among the locals as a picnic spot that they come to with their families.
So if you want to visit some offbeat but highly scenic destinations then Aharbal is what I will recommend. The place is barely 70 kilometers from Srinagar and a to and fro journey can easily be done in about 5 to 6 hours.
Is Aharbal Safe?
Aharbal is completely safe for tourists to visit but there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind.
Do your homework first and make sure there is nothing in the news about any unrest in the area. If everything is peaceful then you are OK to go. If there were news of ongoing protests or violence in the valley, it is best to postpone your trip for another time.
How far is Aharbal from Srinagar?
Aharbal is at a distance of about 70 kilometers from Srinagar. But this will also depend on where in Srinagar you are starting from.
Srinagar to Aharbal Taxi Fare
It would depend on which cab you chose. For an SUV like Scorpio or Innova, expect the per-day fare to be around Rs. 2,500 including fuel and driver. If you chose a hatchback like Etios, this charge would then be around Rs. 1800 to Rs. 2000.
Aharbal Waterfall is on Which River?
Aharbal waterfall is located on the Veshaw River, also known as the Veshu River or Veshu Nallah.
Where is Aharbal located in Kashmir?
Aharbal is located in the Kulgam district of Kashmir, at a distance of 15 kilometers from Shopian.
Is Aharbal Worth Visiting?
Yes, Aharbal is definitely worth visiting. It is one of the most scenic waterfalls in Kashmir and you must find a place for it in your Kashmir itinerary.
I hope the travelogue, pictures, and information on planning your Aharbal waterfall itinerary were of help. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will be happy to answer. You can also follow me on Instagram and chat with me live there or subscribe to my YouTube channel and ask a question there.